Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Why Does Rice Continue to Meet With the World's Worst
The Bush administration, while proclaiming its interest in establishing democracy around the world, continues to meet and tacitly support some of the world's most vile dictators. Such was the case last week when a smiling Secretary of State Condi Rice emerged from a meeting with Teodoro Obiang, the manifestly corrupt and brutal dictator who has ruled Equatorial Guinea with a bloody iron fist since seizing power in 1979.

It is not clear why Rice would agree to meet Obiang, who took office after murdering his brutal uncle, Francisco Macias, who ruled the tiny West African nation for the previous decade. Obiang did not take power as a reformer-he had been Macias' police chief and director of the most notorious prison on the island, a place where Macias himself would regularly come to personally torture his arrested enemies. It was just a naked power grab.

Obiang has proved himself to be little better than his uncle. He and his family had $700 million in deposits in the disgraced Riggs Bank, which admitted criminal liabity in helping Obiang stash the money he looted from his country. He has driven more than a third of his nation's 700,000 citizens into exile by torturing and killing the few who tried to stay and right the regime. He is so afraid for his personal security, he does not even trust his own family. He has hired Moroccan bodyguards to protect him.

Perhaps it is the oil that induces Rice to meet with a man her own State Department regularly describes as a despot and systematic violator of human rights. Equatorial Guinea now pumps some 300,000 barrels a day of oil, had has proven resevers of more than 1 billion. It has vast natural gas resources as well.

But that is hard to fathom how much damage such meetings, and the pictures that emerge of tyrants being greeted by smiling U.S. officials, does to nascent democracy movements. It legitimizes the thug while handing him an instrument to blunt international criticism. After all, would Rice meet with him is her were so bad?

The same logic holds true when the White House, FBI, State Department and Pentagon invite front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood to attend their formal sessions. Once one group invites them, they are legitimized and are adept at leveraging that meeting into further meetings. Why wouldn't the White House meet with them if the FBI just did? Obviously, there is nothing wrong.

Just how messed up things are becomes clear when one sees that the State Department dispatched its head of counterterrorism, Ambassador Hank Crumpton, to be the keynote speaker at a conference co-sponsored by one of Sami al-Arian’s former principal funders, the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT). And for good measure, the Defense Department largely paid for the event.

Al Arian is going to plead guilty to material support for terrorists in exchange for time served and deportation. IIIT remains under investigation in the Safa case in Northern Virginia. The left hand truely does not know, or care, what the right hand is doing.
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